June 24, 2019

Flurry of construction projects on FMU agenda

Flurry of construction projects on FMU agenda

Francis Marion University will soon begin a series of major construction projects designed to provide capacity for new academic programs, as well as refurbish existing facilities so they can better serve the FMU community in the decades ahead.

FMU’s board of trustees unanimously approved two separate resolutions at its regular, quarterly meeting Thursday that facilitate the planned work. FMU President Dr. Fred Carter also outlined the strategic vision behind the plans during his remarks at the meeting.

“These projects are an integral part of FMU’s future,” said Carter. “They’ll enhance existing programs, provide the capacity for new ones and accelerate the University’s momentum. It’s an exciting time to be at FMU.”

The resolutions approved the the trustees included a property transfer relating to the University’s planned freshwater ecology laboratory and conference center, and a bond refinancing.

The projects in the pipeline include the refurbishing of the old post office in downtown Florence, the construction of an Honors Center on FMU’s main campus, construction of the freshwater ecology laboratory and conference center on newly gifted University property just north the main campus, a final phase addition to the Griffin Athletic Complex field house, a remodeling of the Smith University Center’s athletic facilities, residence hall renovations and the nearly completed new Dargan Street facility in the LS Rainwater Building. That facility, the former LS Rainwater Building at 143 North Dargan Street, will soon be home to Francis Marion’s Kelley Center for Economic Development and its business incubator, some University offices, office space for the North Eastern Strategic Alliance regional economic development organization, and a new, first floor art gallery, curated by FMU’s Fine Arts faculty.

Perhaps the most complex project on FMU’s docket is the $8 million renovation of the old post office and federal building, on West Evans Street  in downtown Florence. The 38,000-square foot building, next door to FMU’s Carter Center for Health Sciences, will host classroom, lab and office space for FMU’s growing collection of Health Science programs. Work there is currently in the planning stage.

The Honors Center, a $4.1 million facility located in the heart of FMU’s main campus, will serve the University’s burgeoning Honors Program, the McNair Center for Research and Service, and FMU’s International Studies Program. Site preparation, and initial work on the 15,000-square foot building is scheduled to begin late this year.

A 146-acre tract gifted to FMU by the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation this spring will be the site of the new freshwater ecology laboratory and conference center. The land, which includes 20-acre lake, is north of the intersection of  I-95 and S.C. 327. The laboratory will serve as a unique learning site for FMU’s natural sciences, and will allow for programmatic expansion in that area. The planned conference center will be available for both University and community events.

FMU has been in the process of renovating its Village Apartments, the oldest University residential housing units, since the end of the spring semester. That project is nearing completion and will be ready for occupancy this fall.

A major makeover of the Griffin Athletic Complex and the Smith University Center are also in the works. These improvements will add or enhance facilities for FMU’s student athletes and introduce new capacities in the area of athletic training and student-athlete health.